Miami Beach Must Face Corruption Problems On Its Own, Says Inspector General

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Last summer -- fresh off a corruption raid by the FBI -- the City of Miami Beach asked Miami-Dade Inspector General Chris Mazzella to help investigate its shady deals. This week, Mazzella gave the city an answer: Thanks, but no thanks. Mazzella tells New Times that his office simply doesn't have the resources to help clean up the island, which has had more than a dozen employees busted for bribery in the past five years.

"I didn't believe that we could divert any more resources to Miami Beach to take care of their problems," Mazzella said.

See also:
- Miami Beach Fire Department Is Aflame With Corruption and Abuse

"I was disappointed," Mayor Matti Bower said of the news, which puts a serious hole in the city's plan to clean house.

Back in June, Bower and then-city manager Jorge Gonzalez laid out a four-prong plan to audit problematic agencies including fire prevention, establish a liaison between the FBI and Miami Beach Police Department, have the Miami-Dade ethics commission train city employees, and have the IG investigate corruption.

Now the IG's refusal has left Miami Beach tottering once again on three wobbly legs.

"Hopefully at some point they will be able to come in," Bower said of the IG's office. "I will keep pursuing it as long as I am here."

Mazzella said that Miami Beach was clearly in need of outside help, but that he didn't have the manpower to spare (the city had offered to pay for the investigation).

"Given the revelations that have emerged from just criminal cases, it certainly reveals a concern about anomalies and weaknesses that would allow this [corruption] to happen," he said.

Mazzella suggested that Miami Beach could set up its own inspector general's office, as in other corruption-plagued cities like New Orleans.

But Bower rejected that idea, worrying that any new city agency would get wrapped up in political wrangling.

"We all have our troubles," she said of city politicians. "Nobody is spic-and-span clean. So who should throw the first stone?"

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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